Here’s How Pilots Who Hate Each Other Avoid Working Together

Talk about close quarters.

Sharing an enclosed space in close proximity to a stranger for hours on end can be trying at the best of times — worse when that stranger is drunkmissing pants, or otherwise just plain gross. It's no wonder regular flyers like Shahs of Sunset's Shervin Roohparvar prefer to sit alone.

But if you thought passengers had it bad in there, imagine what it must be like to endure all the discomfort of being stuck in a small space for hours with the additional bother of having to maintain a level of professionalism toward a seatmate you absolutely hate. 

Airline pilots, it seems, are not unlike the rest of us. They, too, have work colleagues they simply cannot stand. But how do they reconcile their hatred of their overbearing, rude, or simply annoying co-worker with the requirement to get on with the job and work together for the next 10-plus hours? Well, it turns out that at least one airline has a system in place to deal with exactly this problem.

At the Los Angeles Times, flight attendant and Plane Insanity author Elliott Hester writes that co-pilots or first officers can "quietly avoid flying with a captain they despise" via the so-called Do Not Pair system.

Here's how it works, according to Hester:

"When a first officer submits electronic bids for the next month’s flight schedule, he must enter the name of the undesirable captain into the computer bidding module. As the bid is processed, the system makes certain the two pilot names are not paired on the same flight sequences."

To back Hester up, the Telegraph dug into Patrick Smith's Cockpit Confidential, the classic "everything you need to know" book about air travel. While Smith doesn’t mention the Do Not Pair system by name, he does note that noting avoiding certain colleagues is a regular part of schedule planning.

“Every 30 days," he writes, "around the middle of the month, we bid our preferences for the following month: where we’d like to fly, which days we’d like off, and which insufferable colleagues we hope to avoid. What we actually end up with hinges on seniority. Senior pilots get the choicest pickings; juniors get whatever is left over.”

The takeaway? Sensitive junior pilots had better hope they rise up through the ranks quickly.

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